This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Favorite Tracks: “Time To Wake Up”
Pat the Bunny is the most important musician in my life. He is not a universally great musician, plenty of people just never manage to connect with his wide body of work, but nobody inspires and comforts me in the same way that Pat does. From his early days as a train-hopping heroin addict in Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains, to his work with Planet-X records with Wingnut Dishwashers Union, to the formation in the Arizona desert of Ramshackle Glory, Pat has journeyed through the genre of folk-punk and been a vital part of defining the genre’s sound and ethos. On a more immediate level, Pat creates music that perfectly blends the political and the personal; his best songs feel like a soul searching conversation stretching into the wee hours of the morning, condensed to two and a half minutes.
Pat’s exploration of post-modernist and anarchist ideals against the modern world can be bleak and depressing, pulling painful emotions to the surface in a cathartic but exhausting release. With COCCOON MUSIC, Pat enters into an exciting new territory of music that is joyful, hopeful, and filled with an unparalleled kindness. Four years ago, Pat unleashed LIVE THE DREAM with Ramshackle Glory, an incredible album of addiction, mental collapse, and recovery. Today, it seems that he has reached a new stage in his life, with his addiction behind him and a lifetime of activism and loving the people around him ahead.
Now, Pat would probably resent me for projecting all of this onto his music, as he is very adamant that his music is personal but not meant to be an accurate reading of his entire life and personality. It’s really difficult to not read into Pat’s story when his songs are so confessional, however, and that’s particularly true on this record. For the first time in Pat’s catalogue, he acknowledges his family and admits to the complicated relationship he shares with them. Furthermore, Pat covers two songs by his brother’s band Michael Jordan Touchdown Pass on this LP, bringing his own intense sincerity to the gentle sweetness of that band. For fans who have tracked Pat across his entire career, this feels like an enormous step forward for Pat to move beyond the self-loathing so prevalent in his early music, acknowledging the people who matter to him most after everything he’s been through.
Interestingly, this album also features two voice samples by Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a huge departure from Pat’s atheistic and agnostic lyrics from earlier in his work. However, when you hear what Chogyam Trungpa is actually saying, it aligns with all of the themes Pat is addressing on this record. At the end of “Time to Wake Up”, Trungpa says: “This world really does need you so badly, so on behalf of this world, I would like to request for you to come in and do something about it.” It so perfectly echoes the chorus of that song, where Pat implores the listener to “stop talking to yourself, you’ll inherit the earth/Please wake up now, the world really needs you.”. The fact that Pat has expanded his sphere of influence to religious teachers demonstrates growth for him as an artist.
Musically, this record is also an interesting departure from Pat’s traditional no-nonsense acoustic guitar and vocals. Piano, keyboards, and sound effects from Garageband pepper this record, giving it a sillier and lighter tone than much of his music in the past. This is a Pat the Bunny who is no longer concerned with letting out rage and aggression, only wishing to share a message of forgiveness and opening oneself up to the world. Overall, the warmth and kindness is almost overwhelming.